By LESLIE COLLINS
April 17, 2013
Not everyone knows Kansas City has a thriving Kurdish community.
“I think Kurdistan is one of those places where people have a rough sense about where it is, but they really don’t know much about it,” said Henry Fortunato, director of public affairs for the Kansas City Public Libraries. “I don’t think people are aware there’s a significant Kurdish community in Kansas City.”
To celebrate the Kurdish community and provide other community members a glimpse into the culture, Vox Narro will host a “Cultural Celebration of Kansas City’s Kurdish Community” on Saturday, April 20, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the North-East Public Library, 6000 Wilson Rd., Kansas City, Mo.
The free event will include Kurdish poetry, a traditional Kurdish dance performance, music, Kurdish cuisine and presentations.
“I think this (event) offers a very easy way to access the culture of this relatively new immigrant group that is adding its voice and its culture to Kansas City,” Fortunato said.
Vox Narro, an organization whose mission is to work with the under-served immigrant population and give them a voice, received a Rocket grant through the Charlotte Street Foundation, the Spencer Museum of Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to host the cultural event. The grant will fund five other cultural events to highlight under-served immigrant communities. The Kurdish celebration is the first scheduled event.
One of the presenters is Ashty Hama, a war refugee from Iraq, said Vox Narro member David Arnold Hughes.
Hama will talk about her personal experiences and give a PowerPoint presentation about Kurdistan and its history.
“I’m pretty excited about it. I think it’s going to be a good program,” Hughes said.
Claudia Visnich, branch manager of North-East Public Library, said the event gives the library another avenue for supporting the diversity of the Northeast community.
Fortunato agreed and said the library is a venue where a number of patrons from varying cultural backgrounds feel comfortable congregating.
“What I’m hoping is that there will be a lot of engagement and a lot of conversation and people will come away having learned something and perhaps having made some new acquaintances and certainly tried some new and interesting food,” Fortunato said.
Hughes summed up his hope for the event, saying, “I’m hoping the event will do what it’s supposed to do and will help the under-served immigrant community create an interface with the community at-large. I just want to see them get their moment in the sun and be recognized for who they are.”